Advocates for New Yorkers with mental health and addiction treatment needs say federal relief is necessary to sustain critical services and meet increasing demand.
Organizations across the state noted that the U.S. Senate Republicans’ latest economic relief proposal fails to adequately support states and localities financially taxed by the Covid-19 crisis. Absent that support, New York has turned to implementing 20% across-the-board cuts.
“Our sector was fragile even before Covid, and some of the agencies don’t have cash on hand that will get them beyond the next two payrolls,” said Amy Dorin, president and CEO of the Coalition for Behavioral Health. “Typically they survive on the margins, and Covid has not helped.”
Providers have seen rising costs and less revenue coupled with increased need, Dorin said. Should a federal package not support states, she said, a minimum 20% cut would affect even the coalition’s most financially solid members.
A recent survey of addiction treatment providers found that the vast majority would be forced to lay off or furlough staff as a result of a 20% cut, said John Coppola, executive director of the Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Providers of New York State. They’d also reduce or eliminate certain services.
At a time when providers are responding to an uptick in overdoses and suicides, the cut is unthinkable, Coppola said. Their work saves lives and improves health outcomes—which could yield immediate budget savings in other areas, he said.
The groups said in a collective statement that the Senate proposal “fails to replenish funding for the essential services and supports that state and local governments provide, all while the federal government watches the pandemic spread and heaps harm on ever rising numbers of Americans in crisis.” The groups called on Senate Republicans to enter negotiations with House Democrats to produce legislation that “averts a catastrophic economic and health crisis.” —Jennifer Henderson